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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

EXOTIC LITERATURE AND THE COLONIAL NOVEL          379

roman belongs to Heimatkunst. In the narrower sense of literature
descriptive of life in colonies which belong to or did belong to
Germany Frenssen's Peter Moors Fahrt nach Sudwest points the way
to the South African tales of Hans Grimm, which are probably
more important politically than in the sense of literature.

HANS GRIMM (1875- ), born in Wiesbaden as the son of a pro-
fessor of law, but by extraction belonging to the district of the
Middle Weser, worked in London as an unpaid clerk (Volontdr)
and then as a clerk in Cape Colony (Port Elizabeth); in 1901 he
established himself as an independent merchant in East London
and spent his week-ends on his farm by the Nahoon river. He now
lives in the Heimat of his ancestors, in an old cloister-house by the
Middle Weser near Kassel. He returned to Germany before the
First Great War, and during and after his military service - he did
not serve at the front as he had only one eye - he wrote tales
embodying his colonial experiences (Der Gangdurch den Sand^ 1916).
He had begun with Sudafrikanische Novelkn (1913), but ripened his
brusque style - face-to-face like that of Blunck but much more
natural, and like Blunck's style modelled on the straightforward
story-telling of the Old Norse sagas - in Die Qlewagen-Saga (1918)
and Der Olsucher von Duala (1918). The latter tale is aimed at the
French: the hero, a German colonist, is taken prisoner in the
Cameroons and sent, with 250 other Germans, to the fever swamps
of Dahomey, where they are tortured to death. Hans Grimm's
great effort is Volk ohm JLaum (1926), an interminable novel written
between 1920 and 1926 after he had visited what had been German
South-West Africa. The events are vouched for as essentially true,
as are the names of the seven typical colonists whose experiences
are described. The first part of the story is strict Heimatkunst: life
in a hamlet in the Middle Weser district is meticulously described,
and the-hopelessness of outlook stressed: even this handful of
people in the heart of the woods is 'without space', and those
who cannot find work locally must move on to factory work at
Bochum, or emigrate. How to save the German race from this
'SklavennotderEnge* is the theme of the book; for this little village
is a symbol of all Germany, now robbed by England of its place
in the sun. 'The whole world belongs to England', the novel
points out; but 'the Germans must be the allies of every nation
that chooses freedom and defies England'; 'new countries must be
divided according to population and colonizing capacity.' Grimm's